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Adhd In Children


What is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

ADHD is a condition that affects your child's behavior. Your child may be overactive and have a short attention span. ADHD may make it difficult for him or her to do well at home or in school. He or she may also have problems getting along with other people. ADHD usually starts before age 12 and is more common among boys. The exact cause of ADHD is not known.

What increases my child's risk for ADHD?

  • Being born prematurely
  • A family history of ADHD
  • His or her mother smoked or used alcohol or illegal drugs during pregnancy
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals, such as lead in paint
  • A head injury, possibly during his or her birth
  • Learning and memory problems, depression, or another condition that affects how he or she thinks

What are the signs and symptoms of ADHD in children?

ADHD has 2 main types, based on signs and symptoms. Your child may have a combination of the 2 main types. A combination is the most common type of ADHD. Your child may do any of the following:

  • Inattention:
    • Get easily distracted or have a hard time focusing
    • Avoid chores or activities that need full attention
    • Not follow or easily forget instructions or directions
    • Not seem to listen when spoken to
    • Make careless mistakes or lose things
    • Have problems organizing tasks or chores
  • Hyperactivity and impulsivity:
    • Become easily bored
    • Talk a lot, interrupt, or intrude into conversations or games
    • Have problems doing quiet activities or sitting still
    • Have problems waiting turns or waiting in line
    • Have more energy than other children his or her age

How is ADHD diagnosed?

Healthcare providers use a guide to diagnose ADHD. Your child must have symptoms for at least 6 months that are not caused by other problems. These symptoms must be severe enough to cause problems in 2 or more settings, such as home and school. Some symptoms must be present before the age of 12.

How is ADHD treated?

The goal of treatment is to help your child learn how to control his or her behavior. Healthcare providers will also work with you to help you learn to cope with your child's ADHD. A combination of therapy and medication is usually most effective for treating ADHD.

  • Behavior therapy is used to teach your child how to control his or her actions and improve his or her behavior. This is done by teaching him or her how to change his or her behavior by looking at the results of his or her actions.
  • Psychotherapy is also called talk therapy. Your child may have one-on-one visits with a therapist or with others in a group setting.
  • Stimulants help your child pay attention, concentrate better, and manage his or her energy.
  • Antidepressants help decrease or prevent depression or anxiety. It can also be used to treat other behavior problems.

What can I do to support my child?

  • Be patient with your child. Try to stop his or her behavior problems quickly so they do not get out of control. It will not help to yell at your child to get him or her to behave. Stay calm and be direct. Always give him or her eye contact and explain why the behavior needs to stop. Try to be patient as your child learns new ways to behave well.
  • Praise your child for good behavior. Children often respond better to praise than to criticism. It may be helpful to set up a reward system with your child. For example, he or she can earn points or tokens for good behavior that he or she can exchange for something he or she wants.
  • Help your child understand tasks he or she needs to do. Make eye contact with your child and give him or her 1 task. Let your child complete the task before you give him or her a new task. Work with his or her teachers to make sure you know what homework is assigned and when it is due. Your child may need to start working on assignments well before they are due. He or she may need to work for short periods at a time. A homework notebook can help your child keep track of assignments and make sure he or she turns in the work.
  • Help your child manage stress. Stress may make your child's ADHD worse. Teach your child how to control stress. Ask about ways to calm his or her body and mind. These may include deep breathing, muscle relaxation, music, and biofeedback. Have your child talk to someone about things that upset him or her.
  • Feed your child healthy foods. These include fruits, vegetables, breads, dairy products, lean meat, and fish. Healthy foods may help your child feel better. Your child's healthcare provider may want your child to follow a special diet or one that is low in fat. Your child should drink water, juices, and milk. Limit the amount of caffeine your child drinks. Limit foods that are high in sugar, such as candy. Sugar and caffeine may make ADHD symptoms worse.
  • Create a schedule for your child. Put the schedule in a place where your child can see it. The schedule should include a regular time to go to bed and get up in the morning. Do not let your child watch TV, use the computer, or play video games before bed. Electronic devices can make it hard for your child to go to sleep or stay asleep. During the day, create homework, play, chore, and rest times for your child. Your child may have an easier time remembering to do things if he or she follows a schedule. Try not to schedule too many activities for a day or week. Your child needs quiet time along with scheduled activities.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child has hurt himself or herself, or someone else.
  • You feel like hurting your child.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your child has trouble breathing, chest pains, or a fast heartbeat.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • You feel you cannot help your child at home.
  • Your child's ADHD prevents him or her from doing most of his or her daily activities.
  • Your child has new symptoms since the last time he or she visited the healthcare provider.
  • Your child's symptoms are getting worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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